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Argentina court hands down first 'Dirty War' sentence since amnesty laws scrapped

[JURIST] A court in Argentina has convicted [HRW press release] a former police officer of human rights violations during the country's so-called "Dirty War" [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], handing down the first sentence since the Argentine Supreme Court [official website, in Spanish] threw out the country's amnesty laws [JURIST report] last year. After a trial which began in late June, Julio Simon was sentenced to 25 years in prison Friday for the disappearance of Jose Poblete and his wife in 1978, and the abduction of their baby daughter, Claudia. Authorities assume the couple was murdered after police took the couple into state custody at a secret torture center known as "El Olimpo." Poblete was a political opponent of the former Argentine military regime that saw the disappearance of at least 13,000 people between 1976 and 1983; some human rights groups estimate as many as 30,000 people disappeared.

Former police investigator Miguel Osvaldo Etchecolatz [Project Disappeared profile] went on trial earlier in June on murder, kidnapping and torture charges, making him the first former government official to stand trial [JURIST report] for crimes committed during the Dirty War in 20 years. Etchecolatz's trial is still ongoing. The amnesty laws, known as the Full Stop Law [text] and the Law of Due Obedience [text], were passed in the 1980s by the democratically elected government that replaced the junta and were meant to prevent rebellions among the military. BBC News has more. AP has additional coverage.

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